Last night I succeeded in reading the book 'A Grief Observed' by C. S. Lewis in one sitting. It's possibly one of the few somewhat short but intriguing books there are (in my opinion) so it is very possible to read it from start to finish in one evening.
He writes about reality. The words are about reality - yet the pages of the book take us simultaneously out of reality. Enough contact to relate but distanced enough to separate. The space between the pages, words, and your own mind are enough to create the distance. It's a fine balance - between feeling and understanding. Between the existence of realism and fantasy. Between our perfectionist ideals and life's actuality.
Such a fine, delicate line.
Can imagination coexist with the bitter substance of the real world? What does reality really mean? Is it possible to exist (albeit naively - down to interpretation) in a reality we have self-created? We are continuously presented with messages of wisdom and advice: 'life is what you make of it - you are the future - the world is your oyster - go and create beauty'. All these, messages of power and autonomous control if you like. Control of the future. In other words, the future is not set in stone. It is to be created by those living in it. Reality can be created, not fought against.
But we also see less gentle and appealing messages of harsh incompatible truth? (again - it is what you make of it). These messages imply that the world is evil rooted. Life is a lonesome brutal battle - good against evil until the very end. Life is what it is. Reality can never be changed - we must surrender to it and do all we can to survive. Some come out winning and others fall before their time.
So the messages appear contradictory.
It's no wonder we get lost.
It's no wonder we question our very being if given half the chance.
'Finally, if reality at it's very root is so meaningless to us - or, putting it the other way round, if we are such total imbeciles - what is the point of trying to think about anything else? This knot comes undone when you try to pull it tight.'
- 'A Grief Observed', C. S. Lewis